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Futures of 7 Kent venues including The Forum, Tunbridge Wells, and The Chambers, Folkestone, at risk as they sign up to Save Our Venues campaign

Seven of the county's best-loved live music venues are at risk of going under as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

These popular Kent bars and clubs have all signed up to the Save Our Venues crowdfunding campaign launched by the Music Venue Trust, a charity which campaigns for the UK’s grassroots music scene.

Welsh heavy metal band Skindred playing at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells - one of seven Kent venues at risk
Welsh heavy metal band Skindred playing at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells - one of seven Kent venues at risk

The imposition of social distancing rules during the lockdown has hit the live music industry hard. It is feared more than 500 performance spaces across the country could be forced to shut their doors for good if help is not forthcoming.

Across Kent, The Sussex Arms and The Forum in Tunbridge Wells, The Chambers in Folkestone, The Hot Tin in Faversham, The Booking Hall in Dover, Elsewhere in Margate and The Lighthouse in Deal have all backed the new campaign which encourages music fans to chip in to help them get through the pandemic.

The Forum in particular has put Kent on the map over the decades hosting performances from the likes of Adele, Green Day, Oasis and The Libertines and in 2012 NME voted it Britain's best small venue.

Chris Smith, who has run The Chambers in Cheriton Place for more than 20 years, has urged people to back the campaign and keep the live music scene alive.

"Lots of venues are putting together crowdfunding pages," he said. "We are all hoping to hit our targets, our individually set targets, and then anything over and above goes together in a pool, and that gives the Music Venue Trust the ability to help those that are most desperately in need. That will be most of us fairly soon.

"The lockdown has wiped the industry off the face of the earth for the time being. It's a tough time for many of us in the country but if we can get through this together then we'll have an industry you can enjoy after all this is done. Keep music live - well we can only do that with your help."

The Covid-19 lockdown has put the future of venues like The Chambers in Folkestone in doubt
The Covid-19 lockdown has put the future of venues like The Chambers in Folkestone in doubt

Mr Smith has set a target of £15,000 to secure the future of The Chambers, and so far supporters have helped to reach almost 20% of that total.

The other Kent venues have also set up their crowdfunding sites of their own as part of the wider national campaign.

Writing on their page, bosses at Margate's Elsewhere said: "Our venue faces closure as we are expecting to be closed for a significant period of time and with limited income we will not be able to afford to pay all our ongoing business costs.

"Despite grants from the government, we have not received any support from our landlords and as things stand we will be severely struggling if we are closed past June, this is now looking exceedingly likely."

On their page, the team behind The Booking Hall in Dover said: "The Booking Hall has only been open for three years. Dover's only dedicated music venue shouldn't close because of a pandemic. Not when it still has so much more to offer.

The Forum in Tunbridge Wells is one of hundreds of live music venues at risk during the pandemic. Picture: Nigel Chadwick
The Forum in Tunbridge Wells is one of hundreds of live music venues at risk during the pandemic. Picture: Nigel Chadwick

"The local community have been very supportive, The Booking Hall still has many years left to entertain you all. Don't let us close before our time."

Find out more about the campaign and how to support your local venue on the Save Our Venues website.

KMTV reports on the threat to the county's venues

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